Why isn't GotQuestions.org willing to engage in debates?
By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries
I just recently ended "dialogues" with two individuals who wanted to "respectfully disagree" with us on certain issues. One person wanted to discuss how baptism is necessary for salvation and the other wanted to discuss how transubstantiation is the correct understanding of the Lord's Supper. Unusually, both individuals were exceedingly respectful, which was the only reason I was willing to respond to their initial emails.
A long time ago, the team at GotQuestions.org decided that we were not going to engage in debates. It simply is not worth our time. There are many good Christian debate sites on the internet. There are many people who absolutely love to debate various areas of Christian doctrine. For us, though, we would rather spend our time answering the questions of genuine seekers than to engage in a debate that is highly unlikely to change anyone's mind. We are GotQuestions.org, not GotDebate.org.
If there is something on GotQuestions.org that you believe is wrong, please let us know. We are always willing to listen to constructive/respectful criticism. Whenever we receive such a message, we always ask God to change our minds if we are indeed incorrect on the issue. We strive to be biblically and theologically accurate in all of our answers, and we truly believe we are correct in all the viewpoints we present. But, by no means do we claim infallibility. We make mistakes. We approach the Bible with certain presuppositions, and we admit that those presuppositions could cause us to interpret something incorrectly.
The debaters usually start with, "I would like to discuss this issue with you. My mind is not made up. Let's discuss this matter as brothers in Christ and learn from each other." Then, once we agree to the discussion, the message instantly turns to "here are the 253 reasons why you are wrong." Then, when we do not accept those reasons and praise the person for correcting our misguided thinking, we are labeled "spiritually immature" (at best), or "eternally damned false prophets" (at worst). If we decline the invitation to debate altogether, we are proclaimed to be cowards, unable to defend what we believe.
The saddest messages are from those who say, "I agree with you on everything else, but on _____ issue, you are wrong, therefore I am no longer going to visit or promote your website." We recently dealt with an individual like this, and the issue was the identity of the sons of God and daughters of men in Genesis 6. Clearly this is a non-essential of the faith. But, because we were unwilling to accept his supposedly irrefutable reasoning on the issue, we became a ministry to be avoided.
Before we wised up and became convicted that we need to make better use of our time and resources, we often accepted debate requests. Virtually all of them were a complete waste of time. Virtually all of them ended with one or both individuals intensely disliking the other person. Virtually none of them ended with either side's mind being changed. Only a few of them could have been considered encouraging or edifying.
So, that is why we no longer engage in debates. We are ready to give a reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15), and we do that in the answers we give and the articles we write. We strive to "demolish arguments and every pretension…" (2 Corinthians 10:5), but we do this by presenting the truth, not debating the truth. We want to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and for us, this is best done when we are not debating a specific individual.
If you disagree with us, let us know. If you think we are wrong, pray for us. Ask God to open our minds to the truth. We wholeheartedly welcome such prayers. But, do not think we will be willing to engage you in an extended dialogue/debate. That is not the ministry God has called us to. As long as you are asking genuine questions and are genuinely interested in our answers, we will strive to provide you with the biblically-based answers you seek. Once it turns into a debate, we will respectfully, but firmly, wish you well on your journey.
We are GotQuestions.org, not GotDebate.org.
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